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I don't know how I got here but I'm having lots of fun.

Written by: Mya Symister, SECAM School Representative

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If you're here only for student representation updates, I advise that you scroll to the bottom for a summary in clear, concise bullet points. If you enjoy long rambling text, thanks for sticking around :).

My journey to the shores of Plymouth has been almost a blur. From the ungodly number of essays and application forms to the 16-hour journey to the UK, the last year has melted together into a big "I don't know how I got here, but I'm having lots of fun". Plymouth is a beautiful and welcoming city, and I am enjoying my stay. Although nothing can beat the warm Caribbean Sea back home, the proximity to the ocean was a bonus for studying here. You should never take a water baby too far from the sea--or however, the saying goes.

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A real-life depiction of me lugging my suitcase to the plane.

Fresher's week was another instance when the time felt distorted. I'm sure that many first-year students could relate. Struggling to navigate the campus, flyers being shoved in hand and greedily collecting free goodies offered at every angle. Only to be battling a mysterious bug at the end of it all, which I later learnt to be Fresher's Flu--gross! Yes, Fresher's Week is probably the most anticipated and widely attended event of the academic year.

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Post Fresher’s Week feelings.

However, as the excitement of the new academic year faded, and days became routine, I found myself involved in the somewhat 'quieter' aspects of uni life. If you participate in enough uni-led events, you start to notice that the university does more than sell tastefully printed merchandise. Rather, there is a thoughtful team of individuals behind every operation, working continuously to maintain and/or improve its services for the diverse community it serves. These services range from academic, well-being, international, pastoral, disability, environment and much more. And the call to get engaged in such activities, by becoming a student representative, scratched that Gen-Z itch for change. 

Okay, I must admit, becoming a school rep may be part of some inner child healing, where I live out my student council dreams that seemed daunting in high school. Personal affairs aside, the school rep journey has been a rewarding and valuable learning experience. For example, the Academic sub-committee meeting was an opportunity to meet with course reps as we collected feedback on challenges within their courses. I felt energized by their commitment to lobbying on behalf of their coursemates. Seriously! There was even a comment about the lack of left-handed seats in some classrooms. As a part of the leftie community, I felt seen, evidence that student representation works!

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Student representation matters!

If you're interested in maximizing your university experience, build on your relationship with your course reps by viewing the various channels they use to communicate (listening) and feedback suggestions (talking). Like any successful relationship, student representation involves effective communication by both parties. 

Alright, busybodies, this part is for you. What I've been up to:

  1. Attended the School Teaching Learning Quality Committee (STLQC) meeting. I will host monthly drop-in sessions to feed-forward student voices at later STLQC meetings.
  2. Inducted as a member of the newly launched Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Committee. This is a student-run initiative chaired by Semben Masudi. We are also the only school-run EDI committee at the university. The event was an opportunity to discuss EDI with representatives from SECAM and make new connections for sharing student perspectives and priorities as they relate to EDI matters. All students are welcome to get involved!
  3. Attended various sub-committee meetings with a focus on academics and EDI. This was an opportunity to meet with student reps, part-time officers and sabbatical officers and stay updated on activities in the areas of interest.
  4. Attended a guest lecture given by Chloe Agg from Imperial College London. This invitation was extended to me by our SECAM diversity officer Tetiana Buzykina. She works together with Dr Asiya Khan and Dr Liz Hodgkinson on the project called “Embedding Systemic Inclusion for Neurodiverse and Disabled Engineering Students”, which is sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).

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Being put on the spot during a meeting—awkward.

That is all for now folks. I commend the student voice team for their effort over this past semester. See you at the next one!

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Yet another deadline successfully met!